Horse Color Genetics

I’ve spent most of today learning about horse color genetics. Color genetics are one of those things that I’ve always wanted to know, but didn’t want to put the time and energy into learning. I’m lazy like that.

Suddenly the urge to learn hit me, so I settled into the book Horse Color Explained  by Jeanette Gower. This book was recommended to me by my friend and expert-in-all-things-horse, Robyn. She is going to be breeding her buckskin snowflake POA mare to a palomino Welsh this year, so the excitement of dilute genetics and homozygous appaloosa patterns is palpable.

Because Gower’s book was published in 1999, I went online to do some more up-to-date learning. So I went to Kirsten Wellman’s (White Horse Productions) thorough section on genetics. I like this site because it has lots of pictures and is fairly straightforward. It is a good companion to all the scientific genetic codes in Gower’s book.

Horse color genetics are not terribly applicable in the world of model horses,* but it does add a layer of knowledge and fun. Exotic colors are very much in fashion for real and plastic horses, so some knowledge can help you navigate all the perlinos and dunalinos and classic champagne tobianos.

Plus, you can understand the genetics behind this gorgeous EE nCr Rnrn colt:

This smoky black (black + one cream dilution) colt is named Ima Big Deal. He was bred by Rambling Gypsy Farm in Florida. I’d love to paint a model like this, but would anyone believe me?

If you’re interested in learning more about color genetics, I recommend The Equine Tapestry, a blog by hobby rock star Lesli Kathman.

* Unless you are into pedigree assignment, in which case some knowledge of color genetics is pretty important. You wouldn’t want your bay going grey Arabian sired by two chestnuts, now would you?

2 responses to “Horse Color Genetics

  1. I am the owner of Rambling Gypsy Farm and I just wanted to correct you on one thing. Ima Big Deal aka Jackson does not carry the champagne dilution he is a smokey black which is a black based horse that carries a hidden copy of the cream gene. Also I have not tested him for the roan gene so I can not say he carries it. Thank you for using his picture as a breeder it’s very flattering.

    • Thank you for catching that, I totally meant to write cream. Thank you for your comment and not minding that I borrowed your pictures. Jackson is absolutely GORGEOUS.

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